Group rides come in many flavors and styles—from casual long weekend rides out into the countryside to competitive training rides where the group pushes the pace while maintaining tight draft lines—but there are a few almost universal truths about them:
• They offer a great environment to improve your cycling skills, and learn about the sport from more experienced riders.
• They're a good way to meet like-minded people who are just as passionate about biking as you.
• They're a fun, social way to train.
• They offer s safe environment—with the safety net of a group—for pushing your physical limits and exploring new territory.
Ready to get going? While it's not always easy to find a local group ride to match your tastes and abilities, here are four tried-and-true methods.
1. Check With Your Local Bike Shop
A local bike shop, or LBS, is often the hub (see what I did there?) of any biking community. Most host regular group rides that roll right out of the shop, or post information on group rides in a public place. Don't see anything? Just ask. They will most definitely be able to point you in the right direction.
2. Hook Up With a Cycling Club
USA Cycling is the best resource for finding a local cycling club. Clubs always offer regular group rides, and usually divide them up based on average speed (16-19 mph, for instance) or experience level. Many require club membership, but the modest annual fees are worth it for the knowledge and skills you'll pick up from road time with more experienced riders.
3. Join a Meetup Group
Meetup.com has more than 1,000 groups around the world representing 400,000-plus members who claim "bicycling" as one of their topics (although the 592 road cycling groups may represent a more dedicated group riding bunch). Joining them is just a click away.
4. Ask Your Local Bike Advocacy Group
Most large cities have a bike advocacy group that lobbies for better bike lanes and other infrastructure, and its members tend to work tirelessly rallying the local cycling community behind their common causes. They've networked with everyone in the area who rides a bike or has even a remote interest in riding and, as such, can point you in the right direction.